Podcast: Why we need to slow fast fashion – and how we do it

ciaran's avatar
Anthony Marino, President of thredUP, talks about fashion industry sustainability at Web Summit

The fashion industry has now become an economy unto itself, emitting as much greenhouse gas each year as France, Germany and the UK combined.

From the agricultural production of natural textile materials to the manufacturing processes required to create our garments – as well as transportation at each step of the supply chain – ‘fast’ fashion comes at a high cost. Beyond these emissions, the industry also drains water supplies, deprives natural ecosystems of land and produces thousands of kilos of waste textile materials annually.

But entrepreneurs are hoping to change perceptions around what’s fashionable and how the sector approaches apparel production and second-life cycles worldwide.

Anthony Marino, president of thredUP, founded the startup to target the groundswell of support for ‘slower’, more sustainable and more ethical fashion consumption.

Consumers are now searching for brands that use sustainable materials in manufacturing – McKinsey research shows that recycling textiles produced for clothing into new apparel is a US$100 billion-per-year opportunity – or that use their profits to support ethical causes. These consumers are also searching for companies that make buying local or second-hand items – as well as upcycling and swapping clothes with others – easier.

“Shoppers are drawn to brands willing to sell used items of their own brands alongside new products because it signals to shoppers that the brand believes in the quality of the product,” said Anthony.

Greener startups working hand-in-hand with more sustainability-conscious consumers should deliver a message to producers that the market will no longer support disposable clothing, which in turn should naturally reduce the amount of waste in landfills. Anthony was also positive about the potential to turn the dial on the speed of fashion in a more sustainable direction.

“Over time this should make producers think more about the inputs into their goods and customers should start to think of shopping not so much as purchasing, wearing and disposing, but instead think of it as ‘buy it, wear it and then sell it’. This should drive market change.”

Anthony Marino, president of thredUP, was in conversation with Jennifer Crichton, founder, editor and presenter at the Flock, at Web Summit 2021.

Subscribe to 🎙️ The Next Stage 🎙️ wherever you get your podcasts, and download this episode or listen here right now.

Don’t miss out on experiencing more exciting speakers. Sign up for our newsletter here.

Main image: Harry Murphy/Web Summit (CC BY 2.0)

Cut out images of four speakers (from left to right): Sheila North, former MKO Grand Chief of Bunibonibee Cree Nation, Ayọ Tometi, creative entrepreneur, tech advisor and co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Sage Lenier, founder and climate activist at Just & Sustainable Future, and Sara Sabry, founder, CEO and astronaut at Deep Space Initiative.

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2024

On International Women’s Day, Web Summit celebrates the remarkable achievements and invaluable contribut...

March 8
An image of a crumpled plastic water bottle against a solid background with a hexagonal shape placed directly behind the bottle.

Why recycling is not the answer to our plastic epidemic

Why is the fight against plastic pollution more urgent than ever...

January 22